Monday, December 31, 2012
Worshiping the Gods
Q: Please tell us something about Hanuman?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: It is said that the Ramayana is happening in your own body. Your soul is Rama, your mind is Sita, your breath or life-force is Hanuman, your awareness is Laxmana and your ego is Ravana.
When the mind was stolen by Ravana (the ego) then the soul got restless. Now the soul cannot reach the mind on its own, it has to take the help of the breath - the prana. With the help of the prana, the mind got reunited with the soul, and the ego vanished.
This is the spiritual significance of the story.
Otherwise Hanuman was a monkey, and in those days the monkeys were also very intelligent and very devoted.
Devotees are much more powerful than the master himself. This is a fact. Real devotees are much more powerful than God.
Q: Gurudev, we worship the whole body of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, but we worship only the Linga of Lord Shiva, why is it like this?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: The Linga is a symbolic representation or swaroopa of Lord Shiva.
First you understand what Linga is. Linga is a symbol.
Why are genitals also called Linga? That is because it is the symbol through which one can know whether a baby is a male or female. When a baby is born you see only one area to identify the gender. So it is an identification symbol.
Lord Shiva is manifest all over the Universe, so how does one identify or relate to Him? This is why in the ancient days, the wise sages would place a Pind or a round or oval stone piece and identify that with Lord Shiva.
Thus, the Linga and the Yoni (here referring to the base of the Shiva Linga on which the stone or Linga rests) was kept because by this the male and female were identified.
Now, how will you describe the Lord of the Universe who is formless?
In the ancient age, there was no form of Lord Shiva holding a Trishul (Trident), or anything like that. In ancient days, there was only a Pind (a stone) that was kept and then by chanting mantras, the Chaitanya Shakti (energy pervading all of the Divine Consciousness) was awakened and manifested in the Pind. So this is how it was worshiped.
It was only much later that idols were created.
Then what happened? On the Pind people started painting eyes, a face, etc. The custom of painting a face on the Pindwas not there earlier.
In the same way even Lord Vishnu was worshiped by performing pooja of his feet (referred to as Paada in Sanskrit).
If you go to Gaya (second largest city of Bihar, India), people there will say, ‘Vishnu Paada’, only the feet of Lord Vishnu are worshiped.
It is said that more important than the idol, is the Yantra (the diagrammatic representation of the deity in the form of symbols).
Every deity has a Yantra and a Mantra dedicated to him or her, and the procedure or rituals of worship of the deity is known as Tantra.
The idol does not get its spiritual strength until its Yantra is installed. And the Yantra does not have any power until it is empowered by the chanting of the Mantra.
That is why in every temple a Yantra is installed first, and then on top of that the idol is established. This is done to invoke a deep sense of devotion in those who visits the temple.
Even earlier, in the Sanatan Dharma (referring to an earlier name for Hinduism) there were no idols or idol worship as such, but only Havans (ritual in which making offerings into a consecrated fire is the primary action) were performed and Lord Shiva’s pind would be placed to establish his presence. That was it, nothing else would be done.
It was only later that the custom of installing idols came up.
Lord Ganesh was seen in a supari (a small betel nut), Lord Shiva was seen in a Pind and Devi (Mother Divine) was worshiped in a Kalash (a holy pot filled with water) with a coconut on top of it. This was the procedure as per theSanatan Dharma.
Even today there is no significance of worshiping an idol without the Kalash. The water from the Kalash is poured over the idol. This is the custom.
Now, why did the practice of having idols begin?
This was because by seeing the idol a feeling of devotion would arise from within.
The other reason is that when Buddhists and Jains made their temples they would place such beautiful idols at the altar. So then those who followed Sanatan Dharmafelt that they should also do something like this. So they also followed the same and began to establish different idols of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.
You will not find any mention of a practice of installing idols for worship in the Bhagavad Gita or the Ramayana.
Only the Shiva Linga (Shankar Linga) was installed. That is why only the Shiva Lingawas there in the ancient period, which was worshiped by Lord Krishna, Lord Rama and everyone else.
Do you know, the stone in the Holy Kaaba (referring to the holy shrine in Mecca, Saudi Arabia) is also Lord Shiva?
There is a shloka (verse) in the Bhavishya Puran, about the three footsteps of Lord Vishnu (in his fifth incarnation as Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin). The first step of the Lord was in Gaya and the second step was in Mecca.
Much before the coming of Prophet Mohammed, people used to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. That is why the pilgrims go and kiss the stone there and they circumambulate it seven times. It is done the same way in Shiva temples where people wear unstitched white clothes and go and worship the stone.
This is exactly like customs that have been practiced since the ancient times. So there are remarkable similarities in how worship is done in Gaya, and in Mecca: the same kind of stone is installed and worshiped, circumambulations are performed in the same way, and same kind of unstitched clothes are worn.
All these are linked and connected somewhere or the other.
Q: Why is Shiva Linga not worshipped alone (referring to the upper stone or crystal portion of the Shiva Linga) but along with Yoni (the base or the platform of the Shiva Linga on which the stone or the crystal rests)?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: As I mentioned earlier, both are worshiped in the form of Shiva and Shakti. They are worshiped alone also. There are many places where only the Pind is there.
Q: Gurudev, in the Vedic period, there is no mention of the presence of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The period between 3500 BC and 2800 BC is said to be the Vedic period in Indian history; that between 2800 BC and 2600 BC is called the Age of Ramayana. In this entire stretch, there is no mention or evidence of the worship of Lord Shiva. So when exactly did the tradition of worshiping Lord Shiva begin in the form of the Linga and theYoni, and why?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: There is a book called Bharat Gyan which you should read. The period of 2,800 years that you are speaking about is not accurate. Lord Krishna was there about 5,200 years back and Lord Rama was there about 7,500 years back, and at least 10,000 years before that the Vedas had been conceived and written.
I suggest you contact the department of Bharat Gyan, or meet Dr. D.K. Hari. They will tell you everything about this. They have done extensive research in this area so they will be able to answer your queries.
Q: Gurudev, we read about the Four Great Epochs or Yugas – Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and the Kali Yuga. However, history that is taught in the schools and the colleges does not follow this system of division of the ages and dismisses it altogether.
It is said that the arrival of the Aryan race in India happened some 5500 years ago. How do we understand this discrepancy?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Listen, all these theories have been thrown out. The Aryan invasion theory which is being taught has been proved wrong.
The age of the world is said to be about 28 billion years or 19 billion years, which tallies almost exactly with what is mentioned in our Panchangam (ancient Indian astrological texts and calendar scripts).
The time and the age of the Universe as reported by the Panchangam corresponding to the Vedic Age closely agrees and tallies with what modern scientists are saying. That is why I telling you to sit with the Bharat Gyan department and study the research.
Romila Thapar herself has admitted that what she has written is wrong.
Everything was said to be after 6,000 years ago while writing the history books. Scholars like her have neither learned Sanskrit, nor read any of our ancient records. Just by keeping English theories in mind they tried to fit everything in the period of 6,000 years. They have totally distorted the history of India.
Many inventions were made here. Many new facts and discoveries have surfaced. Romila Thapar who is the author of all this, has herself said we have to re-think about the Aryan Invasion theory. Which is why I would suggest you have a look and consult the Bharat Gyan department here.
Q: Gurudev, how to know the things that are unknown to us? There are so many things that are unknown. I am sometimes very pained and I start crying for not knowing the unknown.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: I understand your difficulty.
The intense quest is there of wanting to know something, but what is that something, that you don’t know. You know there is something but you don’t know how to know that something that exists. Isn't that it!
Just relax and meditate. That is the way to go there.
Q: Gurudev, can you please tell us something about Asuras and Devas. Were Asuras bad people?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Asuras are those who do not think about the spirit, they are only body bound or Earth bound. TheDevas are spirit-bound.
In fact both, the Asuras and Devas are children of the same person. Prajapati had two wives, Aditi and Diti. From Diti, the Asuras came, and from Aditi the Devas came.
That is how the story comes up.